Critical Thinking and Picture Formatting

Your students will apply a picture style because it looks “cool” or fancy. Very little consideration is given to how the shape, border, or effects enhance the message in a publication. It is a good idea to encourage your students to think critically about how the options they select convey information to the viewer.

Today, I was working with a class of Grade 7 students on TechnoWonderland. We are working on Assignment 3 finishing up the poster activity. In case you have been following the blog, you might be thinking, “What! Are you still working on THAT?” Yes, we are. This is our FOURTH class. The first class had the students practice their login procedures and plan their amusement park. The next class had students add text to their poster. The third class was VERY SHORT because the morning assembly ran too late. And today’s class continued with the insertion and formatting of pictures, clip art, and shapes. The plan is to have the poster completed next week. It is important to accept that creating technology-based projects takes time.

I studied my students’ screens at the beginning of class to determine their progress. I was once again reminded about how much students like “razzle dazzle“. They want to apply as many effects as possible to their pictures. Let’s face it; it is fun to make a picture glow with a bright green color. When your students are learning a technology skill it is important to celebrate the fact that they can achieve a particular task such as add a border, apply a shadow, or change the shape of an image. However, at some point, your expectation should shift to having students apply formatting techniques that enhance the message.

Picture Styles Group in Microsoft Word

Use commands from the Picture Styles group to format a picture.

At the start of class, I took five minutes for a direct instruction lesson about picture styles and formatting decision making. It was a “click and point” task. In other words, I demonstrated the feature on the screen and then students applied the technique to their own picture.

You may want to do this task with your students. Throughout each step, I explained when the option would be effective and provided examples. Students offered their suggestions on what type of school assignments they could apply these features such as illustrating a story, report writing, designing a title page, or giving a presentation.

This type of activity does not take long to complete and it will help your students critically think about the message pictures convey in their school work. Try it!

Insert Picture STEP ONE: Insert a picture or clip art.
Picture Border STEP TWO: Have your students set the color, weight, and dash style of the border.
Explain that a solid line often frames an image better than a dash style. Demonstrate the difference.
Picture Effects STEP THREE: Have your students apply a shadow, reflection, glow, soft edges, bevel, and 3D rotation. As they experiment with each option demonstrate how to create an attractive image that enhances the message.

  • Shadow, reflection, and bevel are three effects that will make ANY image look great.
  • Glow tends to look the best if printing in color. However, the colors provided are not very flattering. Demonstrate how to pick a custom glow color, by selecting More Glow Colors from the gallery.
  • Soft Edges often creates a disappointing effect. Very few pictures look good with a point size larger than 5 applied. Demonstrate how 25 Point and 50 Point make an image almost invisible.
  • 3D Rotation should be used sparingly. The styles that look the best keep the image upright, whereas often the picture is difficult to view if it is rotated to look as if it is lying down.
Picture Shape STEP FOUR: Office 2007 users can change the shape of a picture EASILY.
Encourage your students to select a shape that enhances the message. For example, place an image of a flag inside a Wave Banner or use an Arrow shape to draw attention to text.
Picture Shape Office 2010 users will need to use the Crop to Shape option from Crop in the Size group.
Encourage your students to select a shape that enhances the message. For example, place an image of a factory inside a Teardrop if making a report about water pollution or acid rain.
Christa Love

About Christa Love

Christa Love, Vice President - Christa Love has a passion for education and technology. A graduate from Brock University she has an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, Bachelor of Education in Primary and Junior divisions, and Masters of Education in the area of Curriculum Studies. Her work at TechnoKids Inc. began more than ten years ago as an instructor at a local learning center. Since that time she has operated the summer camp program, taught at the research and development center at John Knox Christian School, trained educators throughout the province on issues related to technology integration, and overseen the curriculum development of hundreds of technology projects. In recent years, Christa has become the vice president of TechnoKids Inc.